Ombudsman report on May 2021 Gaza war and unrest in Israel expected in July

Matanyahu Englman says violent scenes in ethnically mixed communities ‘created a deep and acute rift’ between Jews and Arabs, warns of ‘the next eruption’

File: Police are seen in Lod during ethnic rioting in the mixed Jewish-Arab city in central Israel, May 12, 2021. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)
File: Police are seen in Lod during ethnic rioting in the mixed Jewish-Arab city in central Israel, May 12, 2021. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

The State Comptroller’s Office announced Monday that it will release in July a report on the conflict in the Gaza Strip last May and accompanying ethnic unrest across Israel.

State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman said the report on Operation Guardian of the Walls, which will come out in July, is focused on examining gaps between law enforcement agencies.

“The outbreak created a rift in the relationship between Arab society and Jewish society in Israel,” he said in a statement.

Among the faulty areas the report highlights are intelligence; deploying forces; calling up reserves; the operational response in the field; logistical preparation; training forces to deal with disturbances; and handling investigations and prosecutions.

Englman discussed the report during an accounting conference in Eilat. He noted last year’s fighting erupted on Jerusalem Day, when the Gaza-ruling Hamas terror group fired missiles toward the city.

“Yesterday we marked Jerusalem Day, thus also marking the Hebrew anniversary of the outbreak of Operation Guardian of the Wall,” he said. “I warned in the past that we will prepare a special report of the state’s handling of the operation, especially in terms of the riots in the [ethnically] mixed cities.”

State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman speaks at a conference in Jerusalem, February 23, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Englman said that during last year’s conflict, there were violent incidents and “serious disturbances of high intensity and on a large scale throughout Israel,” leading to injuries and serious property damage.

He said the unrest highlighted the challenge of maintaining personal security and ensuring public order in ethnically mixed communities, which called for a possible need to deploy additional law enforcement personnel there.

The report also looked at services provided to residents of these towns.

Englman warned that the fighting in Gaza and turbulence throughout Israel were not a one-off.

“The eruption of Operation Guardian of the Wall revealed longstanding fundamental problems, created a deep and acute rift in the relationship between Arab and Jewish societies in Israel, and its endpoint may be the starting point of the next eruption,” he said.

He added that the report was in its final stages of preparation.

Israelis take cover as a siren sounds warning of incoming rockets from the Gaza Strip, during Jerusalem Day, in Jerusalem, May 10, 2021. (Flash90)

Throughout the 11 days of Operation Guardian of the Walls, more than 4,360 rockets and mortar shells were fired at southern and central Israel — a pace nearly three times that of the 2014 Gaza war, which saw on average 130 projectiles fired per day, compared to the nearly 400 launched per day on average during the May 2021 fighting.

In addition to the war with Gaza, mixed cities such as Lod and Bat Yam saw outbreaks of riots and violence, and have struggled to repair relations between their Arab and Jewish communities since then.

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